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Ex-coaches strike back in NHL playoffs

The NHL coaching community witnessed a day of vengeance last weekend. The trio of coaches celebrating first-round playoff victories Saturday did so against former employers.

Mike Yeo, who the Wild fired 14 months ago, and his new employer the St. Louis Blues finished off Minnesota in Game 5 with a 4-3 overtime victory in St. Paul.

Yeo wasn’t the only coach to experience some payback.

Alain Vigneault led the New York Rangers past the Montreal Canadiens in six games with a 3-1 victory Saturday. Todd McLellan coached the Edmonton Oilers to a first-round victory over the San Jose Sharks with a 3-1 win Game 6.

Hockey analyst David Amber designated it "Revenge Saturday." 

Yeo’s firing was the most recent among this group, but he told media Saturday this series was never about getting revenge.

“It’s not about me, and I’ve been sincere when I’ve said that,’’ Yeo said. “I don’t think what I’m feeling right now would be any different if it was any other team.

“Obviously, it’s a little bit of irony that I’m facing my former team. But our goal is to advance in the playoffs, and for our group to continue to grow and have a chance to keep competing for a Stanley Cup.’’

The Blues hired Yeo last June as Ken Hitchcock’s eventual successor. Yeo assumed the head coaching job in February after Hitchcock was fired.

Wild beat writer Mike Russo wrote Monday, “It has been established by now that the problem with the Wild didn’t sit at the feet of Mike Yeo but more likely rests inside the locker room.”

It is hard to argue with Russo after Yeo coached an arguably less-talented Blues team past the heavily favored Wild in the first round.

Vigneault started his head coaching career with the Canadiens in 1997 and led the team for four seasons. He only appeared in one postseason with the franchise and was fired in 2000.

McLellan started his head coaching career in San Jose where he spent seven seasons and earned six postseason berths. He and the Sharks mutually agreed to part ways after the 2014-2015 season.

Three other coaches still alive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs have the chance at payback. Barry Trotz, the Washington Capitals head coach, spent 15 seasons with the Nashville Predators. Randy Carlyle, the Anaheim Ducks head coach, spent time with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto coach Mike Babcock also coached the Ducks. 

NFL mock drafts: Vikings could trade up or hope to get lucky

The Vikings addressed several issues in free agency this offseason and will attempt to fill any remaining holes in this week’s NFL draft.

Vikings beat writer Matt Vensel wrote in our special draft preview, “General Manager Rick Spielman and Co. need to deliver a strong, impactful class to get this once-promising squad heading back in the right direction.”

The Vikings sit out of the first round and make their first pick in the second round with the 48th overall pick. They’ll pick twice in the third (No. 79 and 86) and fourth rounds (No. 120 and 128) and have one pick in each of the final three rounds pending any trades.

So how will Spielman use the eight draft picks?

With mock drafts making final edits just days before the draft, here is round-up of how the Vikings might pick:

CBS Sports predicts the Vikings will trade up in second round and acquire the No. 39 overall pick from the New York Jets. With this pick, the Vikings will select Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley. In the third round, the Vikings will add depth at running back with South Florida star Marlon Mack.

“They swing a deal with a Jets team who should be happy to trade down as much as possible to build up picks,” CBS Sports reporter R.J. White wrote. “Brantley is probably the second-best defensive tackle in the draft behind Jonathan Allen, and he gives Minnesota a starter inside with Sharrif Floyd's future in question. The Vikings end up taking Nos. 39 and 107 in exchange for Nos. 48, 86 and 199.”

ESPN predicts the Vikings will pass on an offensive lineman in the second round since they addressed the tackle position in free agency. Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell could be a target with the 48th pick.

However, ESPN added the team’s dream scenario would be snatching up a standout lineman that falls into the middle of the second round. Indiana’s Dan Feeney and Temple’s Dion Dawkins would be ideal candidates.

Fox Sports expects the Vikings will get lucky and land Feeney with the 48th pick. Dieter Kurtenbach identified five prospects the Vikings should target in the draft led by Pittsburgh guard Dorian Johnson.

“The Vikings don’t have a first-round pick, but that shouldn’t be an issue if they start their draft with a guard,” Kurtenbach wrote. “There are several tackles who could slide to guard at the pro level, but the best true guard (meaning he won’t be playing tackle) is Johnson.

Other targets the Vikings should pursue, according to Kurtenbach, are Texas running back D’Onta Foreman, Clemson defensive tackle Carlos Watkins, Iowa tight end George Kittle and USC offensive tackle Zach Banner.

Sports Illustrated has Ohio State offensive lineman Pat Elflein as the second-round pick. The Vikings’ third-round picks are Texas A&M safety Justin Evans and Alabama defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. predicts the Vikings will use the 48th pick on Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, then in the third round turn their attention to drafting a defensive tackle. The Vikings’ final pick in the mock draft is Gophers offensive lineman Jonah Pirsig.

Bleacher Report also has the Vikings drafting Johnson in the second round. has Auburn defensive lineman Montravius Adams as the Vikings’ first pick.